Prosecutors accuse Peru’s president of leading corruption ring
Lima, Jun 15 (EFE).- The Peruvian Attorney General’s office on Wednesday asked the judiciary to authorize an investigation of President Pedro Castillo, who has been in office less than a year, as the “leader of a criminal organization” inside the government.
Under Peru’s constitution, a sitting president may only be investigated on suspicion of treason or if he or she dissolves Congress or seeks to interfere with the electoral process.
Prosecutor Samuel Rojas appeared Wednesday before the court that authorizes criminal probes of public officials on behalf of Attorney General Pablo Sanchez, responding to a motion brought by Castillo’s legal counsel asking that the investigation be halted.
“This is the first time that a serving president has been accused of leading a criminal organization embedded in the bodies of the state … to commit corruption offenses,” Rojas told the judges.
He suggested that the investigation could be reconciled with the constitution because the charter also obliges the state – led by the president – to fight corruption.
The accusations against Castillo did not originate with opposition lawmakers or organizations, but from information developed by prosecutors looking into reports of irregularities in the awarding of contracts for public works, Rojas said.
Prosecutors obtained arrest warrants for former Transportation Minister Juan Silva and for Castillo’s erstwhile chief of staff, Bruno Pacheco, whose whereabouts remain unknown.
The president’s attorney, Benji Espinoza, stressed the constitutional issue and complained that Castillo has been subjected to “discriminatory treatment.”
The lawyer noted that several previous presidents charged after they left office with accepting millions of dollars in bribes from Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht faced no investigations during their terms.
In a related development, the Oversight Committee of the opposition-controlled Congress voted Wednesday to subpoena Castillo for questioning in connection with meetings he allegedly had at a private home in Lima with people now under indictment for corruption EFE